Review Of C.P.Snow's Two Cultures Essay

938 words - 4 pages

C.P. Snow's essay “Two Cultures” talks about the growing gulf between the scientific community and that of the humanities, or more specifically, the literary community. Being a scientist himself, who later turned writer, he had access to both “cultures” and was able to observe them. He postulates the existence of two “cultures” - based not just on the fields of practice the two, but observed differences in both behaviour and beliefs. He attributes it to “mutual incomprehension- sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding” and to the super specialization within disciplines because of the education system to the point that the two have ...view middle of the document...

There is an increasing feeling of superiority amongst both as each is unable to understand and comprehend the place that the other comes from. He ascribes to the scientific community a moral superiority and a certain objectivity, with which I disagree. Morality in itself is subjective. Also, doesn't the question of morals play a huge part in scientific practice today? Everything from animal testing to building dams is morally and ethically questionable. He uses “literary intellectuals” interchangeably with “traditional culture”. He implies that while science looks to the future, literature looks to the past. Why should these literary intellectuals be designated as being the “traditional culture”? Simply because they are “unscientific”? Why doesn't he refer to the scientific culture as traditional, simply because they too have existed across
history, and follow a set of practices, and produce knowledge in their own way? Whether or not the literary community must be aware of the second law of thermodynamics, and whether Dickens is any kind of literary milestone for the natural scientists is questionable – they are not equivalent in any way. Because of the technical nature of contemporary scientific discourse, and the increasing and complex body of work in the social sciences, the k gulf will only widen as knowledge progresses. However, the point he is trying to establish is that there must be some common ground between the two, a basic and rudimentary knowledge of each other's disciplines. But is this bridging necessary? Clearly this system that has crystallised has produced results. The two exist parallel to each other, and both produce knowledge of their own. This is how it has always been. However, there is always potential for more, in this case, within the bridge that he hopes will be...

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